Dreams are made of all things nice and a perfect cuppa.
A well-made cup of piping hot tea is all one needs to lift the spirits. Regular tea- lovers like their tea to be prepared in a certain way and Chef Rajendra Dhuri of Courtyard by Marriott is giving tea aficionados a homely feel by serving everyone’s favourite masala chai in the comforts of a five-star hotel.
A man of humble beginnings Dhuri came to the city in 1993 from his village in Malvan to look for work and after doing several odd jobs landed his present job as a steward. While washing dishes, he watched the chefs prepare delectable cuisines. The urge to don the chefs’ hat made room in his heart. “I started as a steward and was responsible for washing dishes. It was only later that I progressed to taking care of the staff canteen as well. It was a regular ritual for me to prepare tea for the team. One day, Chef Suresh Thampy said he wanted a cuppa, and when he tasted the tea, he loved it so much that he decided that I should have a tea stall in the hotel,” Rajendra shares.
His tea stall has all the essentials one would need to make a refreshing cup. Ginger, cardamom, lemon grass and his distinctive desi tea leaves take up prominent shelf space. Dhuri prepares his entire quota for the day in one go, “I make 20 litres of tea in a day, it takes over an hour to prepare the perfect brew.” Ask him the secret of his famous recipe, and he shares, “As a kid, I always loved to drink the tea made by my grandmother. I used to wait for her to make our morning cup eagerly. I use specially made tea leaves from our village, and that’s how we manage to get that excellent taste,” he says.
While a regular cup at a roadside tea stall would cost you merely Rs 10, considering this is a five-star set-up Dhuri’s special chai is a part of their breakfast menu priced at Rs 950. This, however, doesn’t stop his regular patrons from visiting him just to have his chai. “Some regular coffee lovers have stopped having coffee because they love my tea. There are times when patrons, especially ask if I’m around and come to have just that cup of chai,” he beams with pride.
After initial inhibitions, Dhuri now greets his patrons with a bright smile and a hot cutting chai, “I was very sceptical if I would be able to manage the sales and if customers would be happy, but the response has been positive. Most of our patrons are English speaking, educated folks. I couldn’t even clear my class nine and was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with them, but some of the best conversations I usually have now are over my cup of tea.”We couldn’t agree more.